Talking cigarette packets warning smokers of risks to their health could be latest weapon to encourage them to quit

Talking cigarette packets could become the
latest trend to encourage smokers to quit.
Scottish researchers have created talking
packaging to warn addicts of the risks to
their health.
The idea was inspired by tobacco companies
who have been making packaging more
attractive for consumers.
The cigarette packets are thought to
encourage people to give up smoking in
the same way that branding entices them
Researchers wanted to see if similar tactics
could work against the companies and
encourage people to give up the habit, rather
than keep buying.
The recordings will play alongside the gory
images and messages already printed on the
Researchers at Stirling University have been
testing the new devices on young women,
and are about to open this up to include
older age groups and men.The researchers from the university's Centre
for Tobacco Control Research created two
talking packets with different recorded
One offered smokers a phone number for
advice on quitting smoking and another
warned that smoking reduces fertility.
The packets use similar technology to singing
birthday cards were a message plays when
the lid is opened.
The packs are fitted with a voice recording
and playback unit so that the message will
be replayed whenever the packet is opened.
Researchers at the University of Stirling,
pictured, created two talking packets
with different recorded messages
The device was initially tested on women
between the ages of 16 and 24, as this
remains one of the groups with high smoking
Volunteers said that they found the
messages about fertility 'hard-hitting' and
Girls aged 16-17 in particular said that it
would make them think about quitting.
However, other volunteer said that the
messages could lead them to quitting or
cutting back simply because they were so
One woman said: 'I think you would probably
get used to it. Once you start smoking you
just ignore it.'
Crawford Moodie, one of the researchers,
said: 'It is possible in the future we may see
packs that play music or talk, so we wanted
to see if that could be used for our purposes.
'With the talking packs, people thought they
were really annoying, but that is a really
good way to capture attention. It created a
lot of interest.'
Any changes to packaging would require new
legislation to force companies into using
them. However, campaigners have welcomed
the idea.
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of ASH (Action
on Smoking and Health) Scotland said: "The
tobacco industry buys a great deal of creative
expertise to market its addictive and lethal
products to new consumers, mainly young
Girls aged 16-17 in particular said that it
would make them think about quitting
'I welcome the suggestion that we get more
creative to put forward images of good
health and freedom from addiction as
alternatives to tobacco, and that we start
requiring tobacco companies to present the
truth to their consumers in more eye-
catching ways.'
Alison Cox, tobacco control lead at Cancer
Research UK said: 'We know that tobacco
companies target women and younger people
with stylish, colourful packs that reduce the
impact of health warnings.
'The sophisticated marketing can mislead
people as it disguises how harmful cigarettes
are. This Cancer Research UK funded study is
looking to see if the marketing tools of the
tobacco industry can be used to help smokers
quit instead.
'This and our research is part of our
commitment to stop the tobacco industry
targeting both children and adults,
particularly as more than 200,000 children in
the UK still start smoking every year.'
Simon Clark, director of the smoker's lobby
group Forest, said: 'I can't imagine anything
more attractive to children than a pre-
recorded message. It's like a talking birthday
'The more gruesome the message the more
enticing it will be. That's why horror films are
popular with teenagers.
'If the idea takes off I look forward to similar
warnings when you open a bottle of beer of
unwrap a bar of chocolate.'